Home Course Heroes

by Brad King

 Jul 16, 2019 at 7:29 PM

The ‘Palmetto Players’ earn major accolades at big events

In a state brimming with talented golfers, a contingent of McConnell Golf members from South Carolina has risen to the cream of the crop.

In 2018, The Reserve member Rich Weston of Pawleys Island won the 60th SCGA Senior Championship. Competing in the Championship for the first time, Weston shot a final round score of 66 for a tournament record total of 14-under-par 130 at The Patriot Golf Club in Ninety Six, S.C.

“Never has anyone come close to shooting 14 under par in that event,” said The Reserve Director of Golf Donald Clement. “I told him when he won, ‘You never played this good when you were a young guy.’ He laughed and said I was right!”

Fellow McConnell Golf member Walter Todd Sr. of Musgrove Mill Golf Club in Clinton, SC and Stan Sill of Spartanburg trailed Weston by three shots into the rain-shortened tournament’s final round, before Weston opened with four birdies on his first five holes, and he sealed the deal with three additional birdies on the back nine. Todd Sr. finished in a tie for fourth with a tournament total of 3-under-par 141.

 

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Serenity on the Shoreline

by Anna Plyer

 Mar 22, 2019 at 6:00 PM

Life on Pawleys Island is a Walk on the Beach 

Bill and Bonnie Gillespie, full-time residents and members at The Reserve on Pawleys Island, South Carolina, are decidedly “beach people.” The Reserve’s relaxed, Lowcountry setting, championship golf course designed by Greg Norman, and private beach access sold the Gillespies on relocating full-time to one of the golf villas across from the clubhouse. They have loved every minute of their time here since moving in one and a half years ago. Their son, Blake, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., has also enjoyed spending time at Bill and Bonnie’s new home any chance he can get away for a weekend.

Hitting the links at The Reserve’s private golf course several times a week is typical for Bill, though he still works full-time and travels for work quite a bit. Bill was fortunate enough to play on the winning team in the McConnell Golf 11th Annual Ryder Cup in 2018 — the first time The Reserve had ever won the tournament. Making good use of his reciprocal access, Bill also loves playing at Raleigh Country Club with his son when visiting Raleigh. Bill takes advantage of other opportunities to play sister properties such as Country Club of Asheville and Sedgefield Country Club when traveling for business.

In addition to playing golf, the Gillespies love their beach time. As the nearby public beaches can become very crowded, especially in the summer, their family appreciates that as members of The Reserve, they have access to Litchfield by the Sea’s pristine private beach. They enjoy taking a quick golf cart ride to the large parking area next to the beach access, and spending time on the uncrowded stretch of strand — which they take advantage of daily. In fact, their favorite time of day is early in the morning when they wake up and hop in the golf cart with their coffee and dogs in tow. Starting their day together with a walk on the beach sets a relaxing tone to the couple’s laid-back Pawleys Island lifestyle.

A typical weekend for the Gillespies looks like this: Wake up early, take their coffee on a 45-minute beach walk with their dogs, head back home to get ready for the day, enjoy a round of golf, and then eat lunch at the club. In the afternoon, they’ll enjoy a cocktail and a relaxing dinner at home before taking an evening ride on their easily recognizable golf cart named “The Dirty Goose” to end the day.

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Growing Their Game

by Brad King

 Mar 15, 2018 at 12:39 PM

For pros at McConnell Golf, a good scorecard is a job requirement. 

A few of Ryan Tyndall's fellow golf professionals jokingly said they wanted to buy him a photograph of the 17th and 18th holes at Wilmington’s Eagle Point Golf Club.

Why? Because Tyndall, head golf professional at The Reserve Golf Club in Pawleys Island, S.C., never saw Eagle Point’s two finishing holes while coasting to victory at the OMEGA Carolinas PGA Match Play Championship last November.

In fact, Tyndall didn’t even visit Eagle Point’s 16th hole until his final pairing of the Carolinas’ most prestigious match play event, where he lodged a 3&2 victory over Scooter Buhrman of Champion Hills Club.

Playing in cool, wet conditions, the 33-year-old Tyndall rose from the No. 11 seed to claim the tournament’s $3,000 first prize.

And bear in mind, these were no slouches Tyndall was besting. He posted 4&3 victories over a trio of the CPGA’s best players — Larry George of River Landing Country Club in the opening round, Oak Island Golf Club’s Steve Isley in the quarters, and Rock Creek Country Club’s Rick Morton in the semis — to reach the championship tilt.

“It was awesome,” says Tyndall, who attended the University of Georgia and grew up competing against current PGA Tour pros including Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley, Harris English, and Hudson Swafford.

“There was no pressure because I was playing so well — I never made any mistakes. You can be very at ease when everything is going your way,” he recalls.

Tyndall considers his playing performance to be an important element of his job with McConnell Golf.

“Mr. McConnell and Brian Kittler look for good players,” Tyndall says. “For me, I enjoy playing, I love to compete. I try to play and support the CPGA section in every event possible. Whether it’s team events or sectional championships or even taking members to Pro-Ams, I think it’s important for us to make a showing.”

Tyndall performed consistently well in the Carolinas PGA section events last year, claiming four top-20 finishes prior to his big win at Eagle Point, site of the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. In last year’s Carolinas Section race for the lowest scoring average, Tyndall finished tied for ninth.

Often, Tyndall says, McConnell Golf members reach out to him during the tournaments via text or social media to inquire how he’s playing and wish him good luck.

“It gives the members something to talk about when we get home,” Tyndall says. “They enjoy asking how you’re playing and following you online, which is always fun. I think they take pride in seeing one of us — not just me but all McConnell Golf pros — play well and succeed.”

Club members also enjoy knowing that their golf pro knows what they’re talking about — and that they have the opportunity to not only learn from good teachers, but accomplished golfers as well.

“I believe the membership takes pride in having professionals who not only play good golf in tournaments and represent their club, but are also available to play with them on a weekly basis,” says Brian Kittler, vice president of golf operations.

“You’re so much more valuable to your membership if you’re a good player,” says Donald Clement, The Reserve’s director of golf, who ranked as one of the CPGA’s best players for many years. “The membership respects you because you’re a club professional. They take lessons from you. If you’re a good player, they understand that you can teach too. You understand the golf swing a little more if you’ve put your game on the line and posted some scores. Being a good player is a huge part of the job.”

    

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Employee Spotlight

by Brad King

 Mar 13, 2018 at 6:01 PM

Player, Teacher, and Personality - The Reserve’s Donald Clement delivers on all three. 

Brian Kittler, Vice President of Golf Operations, saves some of his highest praise for Donald Clement, long-time director of golf at The Reserve Golf Club in Pawleys Island, S.C. “We have a lot of good employees, but Clement epitomizes what McConnell Golf is all about,” says Kittler. “Whatever needs to be done, he does it. And he does it with a smile on his face. Everyone who goes down to The Reserve, they talk about ‘DC’ and how great the staff is. We’re just glad to have him on our team.”

Kittler says Clement personifies what he wants from all McConnell Golf professionals: That they be “a PTPer, like Dick Vitale,” he says: “Player, Teacher, and Personality.” One of the Carolinas’ top players for many years, Clement is a member of the Sports Hall of Fame at his high school and his college, Coastal Carolina, where he led the Chanticleers to a third-place NAIA finish in 1985, earning first team NAIA All-American honors in the process. That same year, he qualified for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and made it to the match-play portion of the national championship. “I had never played in a match-play event in my life,” recalls Clement.

“I had a guy from Hawaii four down with five to play — and he beat me on 18. Welcome to match play. I was already playing my second match. In my mind he was done … but in the end, I was done.”

During the 1990s, Clement coached the men’s and women’s team at Coastal Carolina until his college teammate and roommate, Ronald Crow, enticed him in 1997 to come to The Reserve, where Crow was — and remains — the golf course superintendent.

Before he left Coastal Carolina, however, Clement began recruiting the player who would turn out to be the greatest in school history — current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. As a result of his relationship with Clement, Johnson was a member at The Reserve for several years after he left school.

Clement was playing with Johnson the day he hit a driver, 6-iron to 15 feet on The Reserve’s 600-yard finishing hole, made eagle, and set the course record 65 — a mark that still stands today.

Approaching the start of his third decade at The Reserve, Clement has always given back to the game and his profession. He has served on the Carolinas PGA Board several times and is now in his fifth year serving as the CPGA Area Seven director.

“I’m just trying to give something back to a section that has been good to me,” says Clement. “My job is totally hands on. I try to lead by example. I’m here … and just being here is one of the biggest parts of being a successful club professional. Your membership wants to see you.”

       

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A Warm Welcome to the ACC

by Brad King

 Aug 24, 2017 at 6:10 PM

This past April two McConnell Golf properties in South Carolina hosted ACC tournaments. Duke University emerged at the top of the leaderboard for both, but according to the teams and coaches, McConnell Golf stood out as a true champion.

“The 2017 ACC Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships were a great success,” says Kris Pierce, ACC senior associate commissioner for championships. “The ACC and our member schools are grateful for the hard work and dedication shown by McConnell Golf, Musgrove Mill Golf Club, and The Reserve Golf Club, along with all of the staff, volunteers, and club members.”

The Men’s Golf Championship took place at Musgrove Mill Golf Club following 15 years at Old North State Club. Meanwhile, the Women’s Golf Championship was played at The Reserve Golf Club following a nine-year run at Sedgefield Country Club’s Ross course.

PICTURE PERFECT WEEKEND ON PAWLEYS ISLAND


Mother Nature was much kinder at The Reserve during a beautiful Easter weekend for the Women’s Championship. “It was absolutely awesome,” says Donald Clement, The Reserve’s director of golf. “We could not have had four better days of weather, camaraderie, and com- petition. It was a home run all week.”

According to Clement, the McConnell Golf standard for course conditioning meant The Reserve’s greens-keeping staff didn’t need to make any adjustments to their normal routine. “We did nothing different with the golf course,” he says. “The teams and coaches absolutely raved about it.”

Duke won its 20th ACC title — but the first conference crown for the Lady Blue Devils since 2014. Duke’s 5-under 859 total for 54 holes was the best mark, nine strokes better than Florida State. Miami was third at 874, followed by North Carolina at 876, Clemson at 877, and N.C. State at 888. The Blue Devils entered the final round leading by nine strokes. Leona Maguire, a Duke

junior ranked first in both the Golfstat collegiate rankings and Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, was the individual winner for the second time in three years. Maguire posted a 6-under 210 to edge out Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho (212) and Miami’s Delfina Acosta (213) for the title. The Blue Devils earned their 19th ACC title under veteran coach Dan Brooks. It was the 16th time that Duke won the team title and had the medalist.

The Reserve member Ellen Miller served as volunteer chairperson for the Women’s Golf Championship. Miller said she was so proud of her fellow members and friends who contributed their time during the event.

“The really cool thing is that I have received seven handwritten thank-you notes from ACC coaches and players, thanking us for the terrific experience and our warm hospitality,” says Miller. “It was just so much fun.”

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Ask A Member

by Martha-Page Althaus

 May 02, 2017 at 7:11 PM

Dennis Wahl played 300 rounds of golf in 2016 - that's more than 5,400 holes!

When Dennis Wahl retired as a Vice President at Merrill Lynch, playing more golf was at the top of his to-do list. “I’ve been golfing since I was 30 years old and I’ve always had a passion for it,” says Wahl, who joined The Reserve in 2012. “I was able to retire a year early, at age 64, and now I’m having the time of my life.”

How do you find the time to play so often?

It helps that I’m retired, but I always played a lot even while I was working. As of this past February, I’ve played 44 rounds this year. And counting. I’m on pace for another 300 rounds this year. I can play 18 holes in three hours ... four hours, tops. I like that a great deal.

What part of your game have you been able to improve the most over this past year? 

I’ve gotten better because I’ve played a lot. I walk 98 percent of my round. Walking has made me a better golfer. I’m in better shape. I think the game was made to be walked.

What’s the most memorable round you played in 2016? 

I broke eighty 58 times. I’ve shot 74 once or twice in 2016. This year, in February, I shot a 73. Our group shot 30 under par that day. We all shot under our handicap. It was a pretty good day. It’s a lifelong goal to shoot my age. Maybe I’ll get there soon. 

Any heartbreaking near-misses or blooper scenarios that you’d like to share?

Not shooting 72 in that round that I shot 73! I missed two 5-footers. Could’ve easily been 71. That’s as heartbreaking as it gets.

Who golfs with you most often? And can they keep up?

There’s a group of us at The Reserve called The Wheaties, and we play once a week. We play from the tournament tees at 6,500 yards. The Reserve, from those tees, is very difficult. But everyone in this group can hit the ball. Everyone in this group has, at worst, handicaps of 12 or 14. I’m an 11. It’s nice to play with these guys. Almost all of us are in our 60s or 70s.

What’s your post-golf ritual?

I go into the clubhouse, have lunch or a beer. Every time I play, I eat lunch there. A member of a club needs to support their club. It’s about more than just playing golf.

 

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The Reserve GC Hosts the ACC Championship

by Brad King

 Apr 19, 2017 at 1:46 PM

In 2017 the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women's Golf Championship was moved from its nine-year stint at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC to The Reserve Golf Club of Pawleys Island.

Duke University emerged on top of the leaderboard with its 20th ACC title - but the first conference crown for the Blue Devils since 2014. This marks their 19th ACC title under veteran coach Dan Brooks and the 16th time that Duke won the team title and had a medalist.

Duke’s 5-under 859 total for 54 holes was the best mark, nine strokes better than Florida State. Miami was third at 874, followed by North Carolina at 876, Clemson at 877 and N.C. State at 888. Wake Forest was last in the 12-team field at 931. The Lady Blue Devils entered the final round leading by nine strokes.  

Duke junior Leona Maguire, who is ranked first in both the Golfstat collegiate rankings and Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, was the individual winner for the second time in three years. Maguire posted a 6-under 210 to edge out Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho (212) and Miami’s Delfina Acosta (213) for the title.

The following week at Musgrove Mill Golf Club near Clinton, South Carolina Duke’s men’s golf team won the Men's Championship to sweep the ACC honors for the Blue Devils as they head into the NCAA Regionals.

WMBF Local News Tournament Coverage

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